Sunday, May 07, 2006

Opening a Window on Lepanto

Chestertonians (and perhaps even some historians) have long known of the famous naval battle called "Lepanto" wherein the forces of the West under the command of Don John of Austria defeated the Turks on October 7, 1571.

Butler's Lives of the Saints states that the Pope at that time, Saint Pius V, had requested the praying of the Rosary, and indeed at the very hour of the battle, the "prayers and processions of the rosary confraternities" were being made. In commemoration of this victory, St. Pius instituted the feast we celebrate annually on October 7 as "Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary".

Butler's also tells the story that the Pope had "opened a window" (do you think he "double-clicked"?) and had a vision of the victory, which GKC sketched in these lines:
The Pope was in his chapel before day or battle broke,
(Don John of Austria is hidden in the smoke.)
The hidden room in a man's house where God sits all the year,
The secret window whence the world looks small and very dear.
He sees as in a mirror on the monstrous twilight sea
The crescent of his cruel ships whose name is mystery...
which is from one of his most famous poems called (what else?) "Lepanto". It is available in an annotated form from The American Chesterton Society. It's a wonderful poem, and in this day and age when such histories are ignored, it is a useful reference.

But I have something even more amazing to tell you about. For that "confraternity" of the Rosary still exists!

In case you are interested, here is the link for more information.


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